GUILTY GEAR Xrd -SIGN-
Fighting games are known for their over the top characters and elaborate storylines, but the Guilty Gear series took both these elements to dizzying heights. Since the original Playstation release in 1998 the series has graced consoles and arcades along with occasional PC ports. Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN- hit the arcades in 2014, so it has been a bit of a wait for the PC version, but it has definitely been worth it.
Since its inception the Guilty Gear series was built around lightning fast, 2D fighting action, so when it was announced that the latest installment would be in 3D we were a little concerned. Not all games make the transition to 3D with all their speed and detail intact, but thankfully our fears were unfounded. Xrd runs on the Unreal Engine 3 and the artists at Arc System Works have somehow managed to retain the beautiful hand-drawn anime style of the characters along with the 2D look, despite using 3D models. The result is a game that looks and plays exactly like a highly detailed 2D fighter, but is capable of some impressive camera tricks as well during special moves or sequences.
The backgrounds in Xrd are all beautiful and put a lot of other fighting games to shame with the level of detail. The same can be said about the character models as each one is lavished with an almost obsessive amount of detail. This means that despite the age of the game it still looks great on PC and runs silky smooth to boot. The visuals are packed with vibrant colors and tons of detail, which makes it as entertaining to watch as it is to play. In fact, about the only criticism that we can level at the visuals is the quality of the cut-scenes, which appears slightly blocky.
Xrd kicks things off with a roster of 17 unique characters, twelve of who are returning favorites from previous Guilty Gear titles. Sol Badguy, Ky Kiske, May, Axl Low, I-No, Faust and other regulars are present, but other favorites like Baiken, Bridget and Dizzy did not make the cut. The five newcomers consists of Bedman, Sin, Ramlethal, Elphelt and Leo, all of who fit in perfectly with the rest of the cast. For example, Bedman is a young teen who is seemingly fast asleep as his weaponized bed goes about tearing into enemies, while Elphelt runs around in a wedding dress bashing people with a bouquet of flowers!
While Guilty Gear Xrd is a game with a lot of depth it is also surprisingly accessible thanks to its comprehensive tutorial mode. Even if you start out not knowing the first thing about roman cancels, faultless defenses, mortal counters or burst blasts, you will after the 50 lessons. Since tutorials can become a little boring it is great to see the amount of humor injected into the one featured in this game.
After learning the basics (and not so basics) in the tutorial you can try out the challenges to further perfect your mastery of individual characters. You also have access to the “Arcade” mode where 8 opponents stand between you and your destiny. Each character has their own story that is explained in the Arcade mode and conversations before or after battles flesh out the details. The Arcade mode also serves as an introduction for the “Story” mode, which rather unusually is purely about the story and nothing else. This means ten chapters of watching what basically amounts to a high quality kinetic novel about the events in Guilty Gear. Thanks to the detailed visuals and professional voice acting the Story mode is actually very enjoyable and rather interesting too.
For more action players can take on friends or the computer in the “Versus” mode or take on the challenging “M.O.M” mode. In the M.O.M (Medals of Millionaires) your opponents drop medals that act as currency to be used for purchasing special orbs, buffs or even items that help out in combat. Last, but not least, is the “Online” mode where a world of Player matches and Ranked matches await. We had some issues with lag and connectivity in the online mode, but it is something that the developers are actively trying to improve.
As if this wasn’t enough content the game also features tons of illustrations to unlock as well as a comprehensive library that explains just about anything related to the Guilty Gear universe. Even if you have no prior knowledge of the series you will know more than enough after digging through everything in this game. Xrd uses a six button layout for the moves, so a good controller is highly recommended, but those used to playing with a keyboard should be able to manage. Your character can punch, kick, slash, heavy slash and perform a dust attack to knock opponents into the air. You also have a ton of special moves at your disposal and most of them are quite easy to pull off once you get used to the fighting system. A “Tension” meter builds up from aggressive play, giving you access to more specials, but it drains if you are too defensive. Characters also have “Burst” gauges that are used to perform a special attack that can knock your opponent back or interrupt their combos. The infamous “Instant Kill” moves also make a welcome return, but while easy to pull off requires perfect timing or the penalties are huge.
Another feature that the Guilty Gear series is well known for is the rock soundtracks and Xrd definitely does not disappoint in this regard. The guitar driven tunes sound great and are a perfect match for the frenetic action. We were also very surprised at the quality of the voice acting, which is pretty much flawless. The voice actors all deliver great performances and are totally committed to their characters.
Many fighting games scare away newcomers with all their technical terms and bewildering gauges, but stick with the tutorial in Xrd and everything soon start to make sense. At first all the talk of overdrives, roman cancels, dead angle attacks, blitz shields and negative penalties will make your head spin, but stick with the game and they soon become second nature. Of course you can still drop the difficulty down to “Beginner” and button bash your way through most of the single player modes, but don’t expect to do well against a real opponent if you don’t put in the effort. Overall Guilty Gear Xrd is a great entry in the series and a very welcome addition to the growing number of fighting games on PC. If you are a fan of the series or fighting games in general it is pretty much an essential purchase.
- OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1
- Processor: Intel Core i5, 2.0 GHz
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 / Radeon HD 7770
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Storage: 12 GB available space